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Testing the vulnerability and scar models of self-esteem and depressive symptoms from adolescence to middle adulthood and across generations


Gruenenfelder-Steiger, Andrea E; Fend, Helmut A; Allemand, Mathias (2015). Testing the vulnerability and scar models of self-esteem and depressive symptoms from adolescence to middle adulthood and across generations. Developmental Psychology, 51(2):236-247.

Abstract

The vulnerability model states that low self-esteem functions as a predictor for the development of depressive symptoms whereas the scar model assumes that these symptoms leave scars in individuals resulting in lower self-esteem. Both models have received empirical support, however, they have only been tested within individuals and not across generations (i.e., between family members). Thus, we tested the scope of these competing models by (a) investigating whether the effects hold from adolescence to middle adulthood (long-term vulnerability and scar effects), (b) whether the effects hold across generations (intergenerational vulnerability and scar effects), and (c) whether intergenerational effects are mediated by parental self-esteem and depressive symptoms and parent–child discord. We used longitudinal data from adolescence to middle adulthood (N = 1,359) and from Generation 1 adolescents (G1) to Generation 2 adolescents (G2) (N = 572 parent–child pairs). Results from latent cross-lagged regression analyses demonstrated that both adolescent self-esteem and depressive symptoms were prospectively related to adult self-esteem and depressive symptoms 3 decades later. That is, both the vulnerability and scar models are valid over decades with stronger effects for the vulnerability model. Across generations, we found a substantial direct transmission effect from G1 to G2 adolescent depressive symptoms but no evidence for the proposed intergenerational vulnerability and scar effect or for any of the proposed mediating mechanisms.

Abstract

The vulnerability model states that low self-esteem functions as a predictor for the development of depressive symptoms whereas the scar model assumes that these symptoms leave scars in individuals resulting in lower self-esteem. Both models have received empirical support, however, they have only been tested within individuals and not across generations (i.e., between family members). Thus, we tested the scope of these competing models by (a) investigating whether the effects hold from adolescence to middle adulthood (long-term vulnerability and scar effects), (b) whether the effects hold across generations (intergenerational vulnerability and scar effects), and (c) whether intergenerational effects are mediated by parental self-esteem and depressive symptoms and parent–child discord. We used longitudinal data from adolescence to middle adulthood (N = 1,359) and from Generation 1 adolescents (G1) to Generation 2 adolescents (G2) (N = 572 parent–child pairs). Results from latent cross-lagged regression analyses demonstrated that both adolescent self-esteem and depressive symptoms were prospectively related to adult self-esteem and depressive symptoms 3 decades later. That is, both the vulnerability and scar models are valid over decades with stronger effects for the vulnerability model. Across generations, we found a substantial direct transmission effect from G1 to G2 adolescent depressive symptoms but no evidence for the proposed intergenerational vulnerability and scar effect or for any of the proposed mediating mechanisms.

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Additional indexing

Item Type:Journal Article, refereed, original work
Communities & Collections:06 Faculty of Arts > Institute of Education
06 Faculty of Arts > Institute of Psychology
Dewey Decimal Classification:150 Psychology
Uncontrolled Keywords:DoktoratPSYCH Erstautor
Language:English
Date:2015
Deposited On:12 Jan 2015 13:17
Last Modified:26 Oct 2016 07:10
Publisher:American Psychological Association
ISSN:0012-1649
Additional Information:This article may not exactly replicate the final version published in the APA journal. It is not the copy of record.
Publisher DOI:https://doi.org/10.1037/a0038478
PubMed ID:25495547

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